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21st Century Schizoid Band

Live in Japan (CD/DVD set)

Review by Gary Hill

This band can be looked at as a spin-off from King Crimson. They play music that's very much in line with earlier King Crimson here. In fact, much of the set-list is made up of KC songs. The lineup includes several musicians who have been in Crimson at times. That lineup is Jakko Jakszyk, Ian McDonald, Mel Collins, Peter Giles and Michael Giles.

This includes a bonus DVD of the performance. That DVD has two songs from the concert that were not included on the CD. It also has interviews and other bonus features. The video is the kind of quality one expects from a professional release these days. Still, since this is an audio release with bonus DVD, it is just that a bonus.

The musical performances manage to be faithful, but also fresh. That's quite a feat. They are even able to give me greater appreciation of a KC song or three that are not among my favorites. That's quite the accomplishment.

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Track by Track Review
Schizoid Intro
This comes up ambient and gradually rises upward as it continues. This serves as an introduction to the show.
A Man, a City
The jazz meets rocking vibes of this early King Crimson number are captured so well in this live performance. While the vocals do a great job, they feel a little too high in the mix to me. Or rather the music seems a little too far back. They really nail all the cool instrumental twists and turns on this beast with skill and finesse. There is a cool section late that really moves to nearly pure jazz.
Cat Food
This has never been one of my favorite King Crimson tunes, but it does have its charms. They do a pretty cool version here. The piano gets so crazed, and the whole track works well.
Let There Be Light
This was originally an Ian McDonald solo piece. There is a slow, yet evocative and dramatic feeling to this number. It has an early King Crimson vibe, but it also seems more symphonic. It's a powerful piece that's actually among my favorites here.
Powerful jazzy, controlled chaos is in the driver's seat as this gets going. This has some great changes and some amazing music built into it. I really love the guitar soloing on this thing. This was originally written and recorded for a Michael Giles album. I've not heard that version, but this one fits well within a King Crimson based set-list.
The Court of the Crimson King
They put in a very strong performance of this King Crimson classic. This thing gets so passionate and powerful at times. In fact, I'd say that this might be one of my favorite performances of the piece. It's quite faithful, but also seemingly more powerful in some ways.
Formentera Lady
This has never been one of my favorites from KC. I really like this version, though. It has an extended, very mellow opening. Then it gets into a groove that has a really wide open mellow jazz vibe. Some of the later parts of this are among the best moments of the whole show.
Ladies of the Road
While this has some musical passages that I really enjoy, it's another that's never been among my favorites from KC. Still, they put in a solid version. The lyrics certainly haven't held up well over the years, though.
I Talk to the Wind
Now, this is another of my favorite KC tunes. They do quite a faithful and strong rendition of the song.

Here is another that I've always loved, too. I really like this rendition a lot. I think they manage to play it very faithfully, while also in some ways updating it and making it their own.

This song was released by McDonald and Giles. This instrumental is melodic, enchanting and beautiful.
21st Century Schizoid Man
Here they give us the powerhouse King Crimson debut anthem. This version works extremely well. They really do put some smoking hot jamming into this thing.

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